bubble bubble toil and… yum!

OK, OK, so it’s not a direct quote, and it doesn’t even rhyme. But it reflects how I spent a good part of the Labour Day long weekend…

Yup. The Mad Princess of Preserves is at it again, folks.

You see, I made the mistake of going to Loblaws on Saturday for…oh, toilet paper and other boring things. But for once they had some local Ontario produce going!

So, I had to buy about 20 pounds of plum tomatoes and 10 pounds of these Shepherd peppers. I’ve never really noticed these before – they taste like red bell peppers, but sweeter and better. So, my first thought was to try for some flavoured booze:

This, in about three weeks, will be Shepherdised Tanqueray gin. I have no clue whether this one will taste like anything you’d wanted to drink, but I had a bunch of Tanqueray left over from the recent party, so thought I’d give it the old college try.

This, on the other hand, I can hardly wait to crack open:

Iceberg vodka with Shepherd peppers and ten jalapenos with the seeds left in. Better stock up on those ulcer meds… I love pepper vodka!

I also decided to make some infused rice vinegars, one with the peppers and one with lemon and lime:

Then I decided to roast the hell out of the rest of the Shepherd peppers:

…and start making some real stuff. First, I made a whole lot of tomato sauce with roasted pepper, roasted garlic and onion puree:

That took care of about half the peppers. So, what to do with the other half?!?

Initially I wanted to try to make some tomato/roasted pepper low sugar jam. Unfortunately, however, I made the mistake of musing about this aloud, at which point JJ overheard and suggested very reasonably that I not make any more jam until some of the stuff I made some weeks back was gone.

When I say “reasonably”, I mean this of course in the Scottish fashion:

Ye daft wee lassie, what on God’s grrrrreen airrrrth would possess ye to make more jam?!?! Every time ah open the cupboards, ah almost get murdered by a flyin jar of jam. And ye doan’t even eat the stuff! Ye should go tek a long harrrd look in the mirror…

He did, however, have a point. So, instead I made…

… salsa! Three bloody litres of the stuff. It has tomatoes, the peppers plus a third major secret ingredient. I first premiered the secret ingredient salsa at my party to great accolades (I must say I was shocked – I had only come up with it at the last minute when I realised I had 5 million bags of nachos and no salsa as I had dumped all the salsa into the slowcooker with IKEA swedish meatballs in a panic…). That version, however, did not have roasted peppers.

If it turns out at all good, perhaps I will post the recipe here. Or, perhaps I’ll just send it to the Food Network and wait for the telephone call offering me my very own programme.

I also made a V8/coriander jelly:

… and rehabbed some former jellies I had made which hadn’t set properly, including this bell pepper one:

So, I think that was a guid weekend’s work, don’t ye?

Off now to premiere the fabulous new salsa with the colleagues work.

Happy Tuesday, all!


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an open letter to Maple Leaf Foods and Michael McCain

For those of you who do not live near me and have not been subjected to seeing the man’s face on your television screens about 25 times a night or reading his open letters in all the newspapers, Michael McCain (no relation to the guy south of the border who is running for president, as far as I know) is the President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods.  As such, he is currently busy dodging flak dealing with the fact that several people have died eating meat from the Maple Leaf factory which had been tainted with listeriosis.

Dear Maple Leaf:

I do hope the families who have lost people find your recent messaging about the bacteria crisis which arose at your plant 97B comforting. For my part, I find Mr. McCain’s “heartfelt” expressions of sympathy combined with legal @$$-covering to be disingeneous and… well, rather annoying. A prime example of this new “we’re a corporation but we still care about YOU” trend.

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Given all of the talk in the media that it’s going to cost Maple Leaf at least $20million in reimbursements for product recall and God knows what else hush money for relatives of those who died eating some precooked pot roast other expenses related to this crisis, I was flabbergasted to see on CTV News last evening that experts predict there will be no long-lasting damage to you at Maple Leaf – partly, apparently, because of your crisis-management skills.

Colour me stupid, but I really don’t begin to understand how the world of high finance works. However, I do understand that most Canadians will not be buying anything made by Maple Leaf any time soon because of fears (whether justified or not) of contamination – and so it didn’t make sense to me that Maple Leaf would not take a hit.

Until, that is, I had a look at your website (http://www.mapleleaf.ca/Aboutus/default.aspx) and learned that you have some other holdings.   And – lo and behold! – one of those holdings is J.M. Schneider’s Foods!

If I sound catty, it’s because I detest all those Schneider’s Ads featuring an actor playing long-dead Old Man Schneider yakking on about how really Schneider’s is just like a family business, bla bla bla. However, I had also assumed that Schneider’s was actually your biggest competitor – given that they seem to sell the identical line of meats, bacon, frozen foods, etc. to you guys.  (Oh – and it was also interesting to learn that you own Dempster’s breads – so you’ve really got the baloney sandwich market covered here in Canada, eh?)

But instead, I guess that many of those people who want cold cuts but do not want to buy from Maple Leaf any more will end up changing to Schneider’s instead – especially in smaller centres where they lack the choice of goods that I enjoy here in Toronto.

So – and again, I’m rather daft about things financial – it seems to me that you might well end up with more money in your collective pockets as a result of this food scare at Maple Leaf.  But then again, I’m no economist. 

I am, however, someone with a relatively high bullshit meter.   So, phrases like the following, which I read in Mr. McCain’s open letter to the world his customers this morning, make me see red:

This is the toughest situation we’ve faced in 100 years as a company.  We know this has shaken your confidence in us.  I commit to you that our actions are guided by putting your interests first.

As long as “your interests” involve tossing out everything in the deep freeze from Maple Leaf and replacing it with Schneider’s, I guess, eh?

Well, my interest now officially include never buying anything produced by your various outfits again, quite frankly – not because of the bacteria but because I find your approach to the situation rather cynical and calculated.  This might mean I never get to eat cold cuts or bacon again, given that you seem to control the supply. Given my addiction to fondness for bacon in large quantities, this will be not be easy. But I will survive, I’m sure.

And, I would suggest that you, Mr. McCain, amend your little “open letter” to make the link between you and Schneiders a tad more clear. Something like “Our biggest competitor, whom we own, will be happy to take care of your ongoing food needs” would suffice.

Yours very truly,

Kristina M. Brouhaha

I’m in arrears of rent!!!

Hey, I was out having a fun time with the Tenant Advocates yesterday evening…

…when I came home last evening to this dire message from my landlord:

Auggggh!!! I’m in arrears!!! Will they file to evict me?

Hmm… I’ve just spoken with my new in-house counsel, Gabriel.

He advised that it wouldn’t be worth their while to file to evict me, as it would cost them $150.00.

As prudent counsel, however, he did also advise that if they should file to evict me I should bring up the fact that I overpaid the previous month according to their ledger:

Gabriel did advise that, if the worst happens and they file to evict me, I can claim this $0.68 overpayment as part of a relief from forfeiture eviction (sorry – I happen to like the old language “relief from forfeiture” as it really brings home the feudal aspect of the whole thing… but I’m a bit old school that way) argument before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

However, I decided to do the wise thing and just rectify the situation by payment.

This is only because I don’t know that the Board would accept the “I’m maths challenged” argument, especially when landlord/tenant is my chosen field of legal practice.

However, I’m just a bit pissed off right now – I figure it cost the landlord more than than the $8.86 outstanding to have their staff person print this off and have another staff member hand-deliver it to my door fourteen days later. But this is why the landlords keep making money and fools like me keep paying them rent, I suppose.

Now, if I wanted some real drama, I’d skip Gabriel’s opinion and get my real legal team onto it:

It’s actually such a big legal team that they don’t all fit in one photo! Check it out!

(You will recognise JJ in front. He is the honourary security person. We need him around because people like this start creating commotions in the street by nearly running over a cyclist, then getting out of his car and nearly decking the cyclist, then when someone like me intervenes and says she’s calling the cops, gets out and calls the cops himself, parks his car in one lane on a major thoroughfare in the city at rush hour, then gets laughed at by the cops when they finally show up:

Need I say more, really?)

Anyway, even more members of my legal team:

…and still more again:

… and our glorious mascot, who is a(n) (in)famous actress and has actually been on TV!!!

So, who needs to fear The Landlord when you have all these people on your team?!?

Stay tuned… because if I ever face an eviction hearing for non-payment of rent for $8.68 outstanding, I will be calling in the media.

(And, by the way, it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. I’ve seen many clients with an eviction order for non-payment where the eviction order says the landlord owes THEM several hundred dollars. Such is the beauty of the landlord/tenant law in Ontario.)

But enough shop talk!

A very happy Tuesday to you all.

Regards,

Kristina

slip slidin’ away…


Well, His Excellency JJ, Ruler of the Remote, has finally managed to guilt me into making him some new slippers. Admittedly, the last ones I made him, depicted above, have seen better days.

In this regard, I had bought a new pattern … um… two months ago or so. And then I went off knitting for a while (and I’m still not 100% back on my previous zealous track, I must confess). And then I started two lace shawls while ignoring forgetting about my promise to JJ to make some slippers.

That’s when the above sad looking tattered specimens made their reappearance on the otherwise pampered feet of JJ. He is nothing if not subtle. He didn’t bother to mention that he was wearing ragged slippers, but waited patiently for me to stop ignoring this notice. And then waited some more.

Finally, last evening, he stuck his feet up in the air all of a sudden while we were watching Food Safari, waving his puir wee nekkid wee heels which were sticking out of the chequerboard slippers and bellowed said in his usual dulcet tone:

Lassie, when am ah gettin mah new slipperrrrrrs?!?!?

So, today after work, I stopped in at Knitomatic and finally bought some feltable yarn:

Lamb’s Pride Worsted, in Turkish Olive and Kiwi. The colour choice, thankfully, has met with the approval of His Nibs.

And, I’m proud to announce that I was completely selfless in this mission – I did not buy any yarn for myself!!! Hard to believe, eh?

I should, however, mention that I did have to buy this mag and I suspect that there won’t be much content there for JJ:

I was taken in particular with two of the patterns I saw within, and couldn’t resist:

These Europeans know what they’re doing with design, I tell you. And – such stashbusting potential!!! I’m picturing this in either a rich blue (Madil Eden) or poppy red (Dalegarn Svale):

And as for this beauty…

…well, maybe, just maybe, I can finally start dipping into that ridiculously large Super 10 stash.

Great. Another thing to feel guilty about… cheating on my beloved Butterfly Greek Super 10 cotton because I discovered the loveliness that is laceweight silk. I’m a terrible person, really.

More evidence of this home truth: the only real reason that I didn’t buy myself more yarn was because I had already gone on a shopping binge on the lunch hour.

But hey – since I’ve been off knitting, I’ve started to run out of clothes!!

Besides, they’re just so colourful I couldn’t resist… and they’re nice and cool.


And the best part – they cost only $10 apiece! So really, I couldn’t say no, could I? Does it count as selfish when you get such a great bargain?!?

JJ: It counts as “selfish” so long as ah’ve no got mah new slippers on mah feet, ye wee bampot.

Hmph. He’s obviously getting a bit too full of oats sitting at home all day. I’ll have to hide the remote before I leave for work tomorrow just to teach him a lesson, eh?

JJ: More paw, less jaw, lassie!

OK, OK… how’s this for a start, then?

Does anyone know if they have a Bigfoot Monster in Scotland?

Happy Tuesday!

all the world’s a stage…

At the ripe old age of almost38, I had thought I’d pretty much figured out every way that people can be convinced to part with their money for no real reason.  Was I ever wrong…

You see, of late I’ve seen all these ads on TV for some four month course on something called “staging” – you know, “you too can become a home stager and command big bucks.  Call within the next 15 minutes and receive a free coffee at the school canteen…”

Now, I don’t tend to pay too much attention to television, so I simply thought that this was some new fancy new name for “interior designers”.

And this is the case, in a way.  Only you don’t hire stagers until you actually want to sell your house – then you pay them thousands of dollars to redecorate.

I only finally clued into this because my good friend B. is in the process of selling her condominium so that she can move to another city (also, ironically enough, called B.  Sigh.) and her realtor is apparently putting huge pressure on her to bring in one of these “stagers” and throw away spend even more cash.

Personally, I consider this notion to be completely preposterous.  So, I did a bit of research and came up with some info from the place who has been running the television ads for the educational programme:

Home staging is the design process of de-personalizing a private residence prior to putting it up for sale in the real estate marketplace. This is often achieved by re-arranging, de-cluttering and improving on certain items.

The goal of staging a home is to help it sell quickly and for the most amount of money by appealing to the largest amount of prospective buyers. Staging focuses on improving a home’s potential by transforming it into a ‘neutral’ property because the way we live in our home is completely different than the way we should sell our home. Staging creates a living space buyers can “see” themselves in, similar to how model home displays are presented.

Staging also helps create an environment that will lead a buyer’s eye to the home’s attractive features, while minimizing its flaws.

Uh-huh.  And here all these years they’ve been telling you things like “Just boil some apples and cinnamon on your stove before you show your house and it will be sold in no time.”  Were they lying all this time?!?!

But this TV ad says that if you take the course you can get guaranteed employment starting at $31.25 an hour or some such thing.  Not too shabby – I think that’s more than I make, actually.

So, perhaps I should take this all a bit more seriously.  Here’s some information about the course, if you’re interested.  Hmm… $1,000 for a bunch of textbooks, some correspondence learning, a tape measure and a colour wheel!!!  And I thought they soaked us at law school!

I mean, do people have no imagination whatsoever?!  I mean, if I were buying a house, I’d end up decorating it in my own inimitable fashion anyway…

And why the hell should I depersonalise a house I’m trying to sell while I’m still living there, anyway?! I quite happen to like the personality of my place!!

Talk about your false economies.  I spend $5,000 or $6,000 getting someone to paint a house that I’m leaving anyway, so that I can maybe get an extra $1,000 over that tacked on to the selling price – a percentage of which, by the way will go in commissions to the realtor, the lawyer and (doubtless) the stager.  So, at the end of the day I will be $500.00 or so ahead – and will have been stressed out because people were in painting my place, moving my furniture, etc.  Does this really make any sense?!

I must confess, having said that, that I have been known to “stage” an apartment myself – for quite different reasons.  The landlord had put the property up for sale approximately one day after I moved in and I did not wish to have to move three months later.  So, whenever the realtor came by to show the place, I made sure it was an absolute disgusting mess (this, I must admit, wasn’t really a huge challenge).  I also painted the walls in extremely gaudy colours which I happened to like but which proved anathema to prospective buyers.

Hmm… so, maybe there is something to this “staging thing” after all.  Maybe it’s time to pack in the law thing and start a rewarding and exciting new career?!

Then again, that’s how I always feel on Monday mornings.  Sigh.

Have a guid one!

duckie invasion?!

My beleaguered mother, no doubt shaking her head about my wee obsession with rubber duckies, very kindly sent me the following scan the other day…

 

 

Although I couldn’t help but think that this image was cute cute cute, on some level I’ve since been quite perturbed about the abuse of the humble rubber duckie by the advertising industry.

I mean, the rubber duckie is not just a plaything for our use and abuse, you know.  It is an extraordinarily hardy and brave species. 

These are some rubber duckies and other plastic toys which crossed the Pacific Ocean from China and ended up all the way in New England, 11 years after falling off a container ship.  They were apparently quite the speed demons, travelling at double the rate that the water in the North Pacific moves.  They washed up back in 2003 and a reward was offered for a specific duckie which had gone completely white from its trials and tribulations at sea. 

I’m not sure the reward was ever collected.  But you can read about their journey here, if you’d like.

And, I mean, really – could you cross the Pacific without a raft? Think about it.

But not only is the humble rubber duckie brave, s/he is selfless and giving, working tirelessly for charity.

S/he is also athletic, by the way (far more so than I!):

 Rubber duckies, as you know if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, are capable of forming strong loving relationships:

Yet they continue to be used and abused by Evil Corporations such as Adidas to sell products and make rich fat men even richer and fatter!!!

 It all makes me want to weep, really.  Plus, it makes me afraid.  It is only a matter of time before the rubber duckies stage a revolution and take over… just last night I had a nightmare about this.  Click on this link to see it in full colour.

Scary, eh?

Well, we have the power to stop this abuse of the Rubber Duckie and the ensuing rebellion, revolution and takeover which will lead to the end of life as we know it.  Education, I feel, is key.  To learn more about the honourable rubber duckie, you can click here.

And next time you see a cute little ad featuring a rubber duckie, please spare a thought to the abuse and degradation that led to the ad, and boycott the product… would you?

(Yippee!  Another excuse not to have to shave my legs!!! Huzzah!!)

Happy Thursday!

and on the eighth day…

… she succumbed to the siren call of Romni Wools.

(OK, OK – I know that the people who frequent here knew it was only a matter of time. But I had managed to delude myself that I could make it through July at least without hitting a yarn shop – as is evidenced by this rather heartfelt post last week. Damn this blogging thing, anyway – it means I can no longer fully delude myself about promises made after they are broken!)

But it’s not my fault. Really. You see, I was stupid enough to misplace my 2.5mm lace needles (which I need for the Year of Lace Blueberry project

GOOD KRISTINA: But you’ve just started two other lace projects! You won’t even start this one for another month or so…

EVIL KRISTINA: How do you know??? I knit faster than you do, you lazy wench. You’re too busy being goody-goody and doing things like working and being sociable.

GOOD KRISTINA: You can’t finish two full lace stoles by the end of July! That would be impossible.

EVIL KRISTINA: Besides, whose fault is it the needles are gone anyway?!? I wanted you to hold onto all that Dale Svale lightweight stuff but noyou had to clean out the stash room and take the whole bag of it to the Goodwill box. And that’s why the needles are gone – they were in that bag, you twit!!!

GOOD KRISTINA: But there’s no more room in the storage locker!!!

EVIL KRISTINA: Who said anything about the storage locker??? What’s wrong with the living room floor? We don’t even walk in that corner where all the stuff was stashed…

GOOD KRISTINA: (holding head) I … I … oh, never mind.

… and besides, the evil people at Romni have moved the Malabrigo to the front of the store, instead of hiding it in the back where I actually had to go and look for it.

Malabrigo? you might well ask. Didn’t I say just last week I already had 4 kilometres of the stuff in my stash?!?!

Well, yeeeeees… – but not in the Molly colourway:

Shocking pink! And, in yesterday’s ultra hot weather, it reminded me of a refreshing watermelon ice.

Or, for that matter, of my new favourite beverage:


So, how could I resist, really?

GOOD KRISTINA: Hey – have you forgotten it’s JJ’s birthday?!? We should be buying stuff for him, not for us!! Today of all days!

EVIL KRISTINA: Whatever.

GOOD KRISTINA: I mean, at least I bought him that fancy $90 bottle of malt whisky from Cape Breton – and you never even chipped in. So, what did you get him? Huh??? Huh???

EVIL KRISTINA: OK – NOTHING.  All right? Satisfied????

Well, I probably should have resisted, actually. Why? Because, on the way home from work yesterday, I was all of a sudden plagued by a recent memory – something that I had not only actually come across in the stash just last week but documented in that dreadful “I’ll never ever ever – and I mean NEVER – go to the LYS again!” post.

I hoped that perhaps my memory was failing me (as it seemed to have while in Romni earlier – but then I can hardly be blamed for that, can I?!?).

But no. Sigh.

One thing very clear in my failing memory, however… the image of me tossing the Romni receipt blithely away into the bin at St Andrew station on the way to the train.  After all, I wouldn’t need it, right?!

GOOD KRISTINA: heh heh heh heh heh.  Serves you right.

EVIL KRISTINA: Ah, shuddup already.

Hmph.

Happy Tuesday!